Someone among my group of “climate change is real” mates sent me and others a series of those heat-stripe charts, from dark blue (cold) to dark red (hot) for various places, showing that it had grown hotter over the past 100 to 200 years or so. The earliest was from central England and dated from 1772. Climate Lab Book is the source for these charts if you want to look them up. One wag responded that these charts made it easier for people who couldn’t read graphs. Uneducated Deplorables presumably.
I can read graphs despite my membership of the Deplorables. As can most, if not all, of those sceptical of the alarmist hypothesis. I responded in a reasoned and diplomatic way that those who thought the charts showed anything of interest or significance were halfwits. Or, I may have said that they had only half a brain. I’d had a glass or two of wine at the time. But leaving this particular way of expressing myself aside, what is my point?
My point is that we are in an interglacial period (thankfully) and, to boot, we are coming off a Maunder Minimum (low Sunspot activity) dated around 1645 to 1715. This is otherwise referred to as the Little Ice Age. Thus, there is no dispute that the earth has gradually — though not evenly — warmed since then. To point this out as though it were profound is profoundly irritating to those with a full quota of wits.
I thought it might be instructive to employ what in the business world is called facilitation. You break an issue down; and then, by approaching it from the least- to the most-contentious parts, you try to forge a consensus among people in a room. A consensus is infeasible when comes to climate. But a process of breaking down the climate change hypothesis into parts might put the debate on a more intelligent footing and, perhaps, deter people from broadcasting banal heat charts. It’s a simplified breakdown. I want a degree of licence on that matter. Only the first three of the six parts listed below would find unanimity among true believers and sceptics.
- The earth has warmed since the industrial revolution.
- The warming since circa 1975 (based on land, sea and, since 1979, on satellites) has been at a considerably faster pace on average than in the period from 1850 to 1975. (Only since 1850 has there been a land and sea global temperature series (HADCRUT) based on thermometer readings.)
- CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from around 280ppm pre-industrialization to around 400ppm now.
- The increase in CO2 is mainly due to industrial emissions
- The more rapid increase in temperature since 1975 is predominantly due to increased CO2 emissions.
- Further increases in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 risks runaway warming accompanied by more violent and frequent adverse weather events and by flooding sea-level rises.
You might ask why this breakdown is useful. Only in making the debate more intelligible is my claim. Let the debate begin at number four above. Put the first three away into the consensus bank.
When it comes number four, some scientists among sceptics would agree. Others might differ. One sceptic colourfully described mankind’s emissions as a “fart in the wind.” In other words, he thought natural processes primarily accounted for the rise in CO2. I have no idea.
When it comes to number five there is a theory. CO2 is a mild greenhouse gas but it encourages other effects. Principally, the creation of water vapour, I understand, which has a multiplying warming effect. Some scientists among sceptics suggest that negative feedback effects (e.g. cloud cover reflecting back the Sun’s rays) will mitigate warming. Some suggest that CO2 is a sideshow and that other natural forces are at work. See, for example, Kininmonth in QOL 27 August. I have no idea.
When it comes to number six a combination of statistical models and speculation underscore the predictions. Here I have a tentative view. Models are very bad at mirroring dynamic complex natural systems. They’re best taken with a grain of salt. But, on the whole, as you can see, I don’t think I am in any position to judge the science. Ditto for all, all, of us outside of the scientific fraternity. At the same time, all of us are position to judge the process. The process has been appalling in my view.
Groupthink among climate scientists (the ‘the science is settled’ brigade) has constrained public debate. The use of the term “denier” says it all. Carrots in the form of research grants and sticks in the form of shunnings and sackings have silenced academic sceptics. Corporate carpetbaggers, who know squat about the science, have sleazed into the picture grabbing billions of taxpayer dollars to install costly and intermittent power sources. Virtue signalling politicians, equally ignorant, have jumped onto the bandwagon. It is a dream come true for the greens who would like to deindustrialise the planet. And, to top it off, once you let the UN make the running, despite all evidence to the contrary, the North Pole has no summer ice left, imaginary hockey stick temperature graphs appear, and Pacific islands begin sinking under swelling seas.
Finding the truth now about the science is impossible in our lifetimes. Too much vested interest in the current paradigm stymies genuine inquiry. There was a possibility of some sort of forced and awkward consensus being forged on reducing CO2 emissions by using ‘clean’ coal, gas, nuclear and, yes, some solar. But that opportunity too is lost. Among believers the problem and the means of combatting it have become conflated.
My observation is that believers are predominantly “solutioneers” (Roger James, Return to Reason). The means have become the objective. Deploying windmills and solar panels is now the principal objective. Reducing CO2 emissions has become of secondary importance. Thus, power has become much costlier and more unreliable. And emissions? Onwards and upwards. But heck, look at those ugly soaring wind turbines and feel good about yourself.
The only answer left is in partisan politics. We need politicians and governments to arise to crash through the current paradigm. Trump is having go. Morrison? Don’t hold your breath. I see, as I write, that new Energy Minister Angus Taylor as forsworn his fidelity to ‘the science’. Mind you, what he says he will do about it gives a glimmer of hope. Fingers crossed.